Summer 2021 - Optical Connections Magazine



Network usage has surged across Europe. For the industry, it means engineers and service providers have been working tirelessly to ensure networks can cope with demand. Neil Bessant , Fusion Splicer Divisional Manager at Fujikura Europe looks at how technology can help meet the demand for skilled engineers.

A ccording to reports, internet use in some consumed 50,000 petabytes of data in the year, compared with 22,000 in 2019. And Vodafone has reported a 50 per cent increase in internet traffic in Europe since the pandemic began. The importance of the internet to businesses and people throughout this pandemic has also been highlighted by the fact that network engineers were and still are deemed as key workers by the likes of the UK government. That in itself indicates the pressure on the industry. European nations more than doubled in 2020. BT spin off Openreach said customers in the UK To give an idea of just how much usage has surged since the start of the pandemic, at one point in 2020 service providers asked the likes of Netflix and YouTube to reduce the quality of videos on their platforms to free up bandwidth. The surge has created a change in dynamic for operators and engineers maintaining and upgrading network infrastructure in Europe.

Engineers have gotten much busier and finding the time to complete jobs on time and on budget, whether they work for an operator or a subcontractor, has become a huge challenge. Couple this with a shortage of skilled engineers - and operators have some real headaches.

going to be key for all operators rolling out upgrades and new networks.

Across Europe, including the likes of Italy and France, there are major fibre to the home (FTTH) projects underway as more and more governments look to invest in their country’s networks and increase general investment to ensure infrastructure is in place to keep economies moving. This is because the radical change in our home and work lives looks set to stay for the long-term as many organisations commit to permanent remote working or at least a mix of home and office. And the speed the industry is delivering to upgrade infrastructure is impressive. In UK regulator Oftel’s Connected Nations Update: Spring 2021 report, the availability of broadband capable of delivering gigabit speeds for domestic households continued to rapidly improve, with almost 11 million homes in the UK able to access it as of January 2021, up from 7.9 million in just September 2020. It also means the focus of future policy is on how network infrastructure can support faster, more far reaching and ever


The rise in the need for bandwidth has meant operators have faced the challenge of keeping up with connecting people. The good news for the industry is that plans for many of the fibre upgrade projects we are seeing in Europe, to support the need for connectivity, were already in the pipeline and the pandemic has only brought their timelines forward. Openreach announced in December that it had hit a record build rate for its full fibre broadband programme - which aims to reach 20 million homes and businesses by the mid-to-late 2020s. It says engineers are now delivering faster connectivity to 40,000 homes and businesses a week. Yet this isn’t without the caveat that the target will only be met with ‘the required critical enablers. Access to engineers with the right skills is


| ISSUE 24 | Q2 2021

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